USA 3x3 Men’s World Cup Team Goes 2-0 In First Day of Competition
Led by Robbie Hummel (Purdue/Valparaiso, Ind.), who combined for a tournament-high of 23 points in the USA’s two victories, the USA Men’s 3x3 World Cup Team (2-0) took down three-time defending champion Serbia (1-1) 21-16 and followed that with a 22-3 drubbing of Turkey (0-2) at the 2019 FIBA 3x3 World Cup for Men in Amsterdam.
In addition to Hummel, who also grabbed seven rebounds and was credited with four assists in the two games, the USA was paced to the two victories by Kareem Maddox (Princeton/Los Angeles, Calif.), who combined for eight points and 11 rebounds; Canyon Barry (Iowa Wolves/Florida/Colorado Springs, Colo.), who had seven points and a pair of rebounds; and Damon Huffman (Brown/Petoskey, Mich.), who tallied five points, five assists and five rebounds.
“It’s huge to be 2-0 after the first day,” said Maddox. “We knew we needed to do that to set the tone early. So, we put all our energy and all our focus into this. It’s gratifying to see it pay off. But we know we still have two more games in pool play.”
The USA will play its final two preliminary games on June 21 against South Korea (1-1) at 10:55 a.m. EDT and closes out preliminary play versus host Netherlands (1-1) at 1:30 p.m. EDT. Fans in the USA can watch the games live online at FloHoops.com.
“It has to start with South Korea, that’s our next game,” added Hummel. “The Netherlands had a tough loss to Serbia. So, the pool is wide open. We’re in a good place, but we have to have a good day of practice tomorrow and go through our scouting. We’ll definitely go through it, do our preparation, which really worked for us today. We’ll probably keep it very similar and go from there. It’ll be a big day for us on Friday in trying to advance to the medal round.”
The USA men opened the day with a historic victory over Serbia, which entered the game with a 15-game win streak in 3x3. The 21-16 win marked the first time a USA 3x3 men’s team had defeated a Serbia 3x3 squad, and only the fourth time Serbia had been handed a loss in 3x3 World Cup history.
“Our focus to come out, our mentality, was defense,” said Hummel on the Serbia game. “And defensively we were really, really good. That set the tone. It helped that we made some shots early. That got us off to a great start opposed to just a good one. But I thought our defense really carried us, especially when we had a hard time scoring. It was a great win. It was a great start to this tournament. We also know that even though it’s a great start, we know that there’s still a lot of basketball to be played.
“We see those guys on the (FIBA 3x3) circuit all the time,” added Hummel. “We’re very familiar with them. We seem to run into those guys in every tournament we play.”
Against Serbia Hummel opened the scoring with a 3-point play with just eight seconds expired, and the USA never trailed. The U.S. began pulling away and a Hummel 2 at 6:10 gave the squad an 8-3 advantage. However, Serbia, refusing to back down, whittled away the gap and closed to within a point, 10-9 with 4:30 on the clock.
An 8-0 run nearly put the game out of reach. Maddox was fouled on a made basket and since it was Serbia’s seventh foul, he was awarded two free throws. He hit his first one. The second one hit the rim and Maddox was able to tip the ball out to Huffman, who went in for the bucket to up the USA’s lead to 14-9. Eleven seconds later Maddox was fouled and Serbia was whistled for a technical. Hummel hit the free throw for the tech and Maddox hit the second of two awarded for the foul to bring the lead to 16-9 with 4:01 to play. A Barry steal and pass to Hummel for 2 ended the run with the USA owning a commanding 18-9 advantage.
Serbia reeled off five straight points and closed to 18-15, but a Huffman offensive board and assist to Barry got the USA back on the scoreboard. Maddox followed with a put-back at 1:53 and the USA need just one more point for the victory. Following a Serbian bucket, Maddox hit the game winner with 1:31 left on the clock.
Hummel shot 3-of-6 from 2-point and led the USA with nine points. Maddox scored six points and grabbed five rebounds, Barry and Huffman scored three points apiece and Huffman also corralled five boards as the team outrebounded Serbia 13-7. The U.S. also held the Europeans to a frigid 12% (1-8 2pt FGs) from behind the arc, while netting 44.4% (4-9 2pt FGs) of its 2-point attempts.
“Robbie Hummel, that’s all I have to say,” said Maddox on the key to the Serbian victory. “He just shot the lights out. We played great defense as a team and we stayed tough. That’s a really tough team, they’re the No. 1 team in the world for a reason.”
“Our focus between games was really good,” said Hummel, who hit 7-of-9 overall and went 5-of-7 from beyond the arc to score a game-high 14 points against Turkey. “I thought everybody had a good sense that the Serbia win wouldn’t mean much if we were to not win against Turkey. We talked about it, we needed to stay focused. They were locked in, Turkey played South Korea tough. The score wouldn’t indicate that, they ended losing about 21-10, but the score was 12-10 at one point, so they were in the game. So, we wanted to come out strong and go from there.”
And come out strong is precisely what the USA did.
Opening with back-to-back 2s, the USA over the game’s first 2:10 raced to an 8-0 start. Turkey made a pair of baskets to bring the score to 8-2, but four points from Hummel and a slam-dunk from Maddox put the game out of reach, 13-2. Turkey scored its third and final point of the game with 5:28 left on the clock and the USA closed out the game with a 9-0 run that featured a trio of 2s from Hummel, including the game’s final points, in the 22-3 victory. In winning with 2:50 remaining on the clock, the game listed as the third-fastest played so far over the two-day tournament.
Barry scored four points in the win and Huffman and Maddox added two points. Maddox hauled in six rebounds and Hummel grabbed five. The USA forced Turkey into 14 turnovers and 21.4% (3- 14 FGs) shooting from the floor, while committing just one turnover and hitting a 50% (12-24 FGs) from the field.
“Defense is the key to our team and defense is the key to 3x3,” said Maddox. “3x3 is an outdoor sport, the elements aren’t always in your favor, you can’t always rely on shooting. Sometimes you can’t even rely on dribbling, so your defense has to be your stalwart. It has to be your anchor. This team is definitely trying to make that our identity. And, after the first day, it looks like we’re on our way to doing that, which is really important.”
With two more preliminary games on the schedule for each team, four teams remain unbeaten with a 2-0 mark, including the USA in Group A, Mongolia in Group B, Slovenia in Group C and Poland in Group D. All four groups have three teams holding 1-1 records and there are four additional teams sitting at 0-2.
“The brackets in all the pools are wide open,” acknowledged Maddox. “So, who knows who is going to come out of it? The key is not looking ahead because anything can happen in 3x3. Who knows what the quarterfinals will bring? We just need to take care of business on Friday in our two remaining games against South Korea and the Netherlands.”
Following conclusion of pool play, teams will be seeded based on their records, and the top two teams from each of the four pools advance to the June 22 quarterfinals. Winners will advance to the June 23 semifinals, and the gold and bronze medal games will be played later that day.
In addition to host Netherlands and three-time defending champion Serbia, nations competing in the 2019 FIBA 3x3 World Cup for Men are: Australia, Brazil, China, Estonia, France, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Poland, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Russia, Slovenia, South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States.
Olympic fans will see the launch of a new basketball discipline with the inclusion of 3x3 in 2020. The exciting and fast-paced game officially was unveiled in international competition at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games and has since become a fan favorite at FIBA 3x3 World Cup events. Played on a half court with a 10-minute clock, and a 12-second shot clock, the first team to 21 points, or the team in the lead at the end of regulation, is the winner. The non-stop action of 3x3 will ensure it is one of the hottest tickets in Tokyo, and fans in Las Vegas will get an early taste of that excitement during the USA Basketball 3x3 Nationals.
About the FIBA 3x3 World Cup
The sixth FIBA 3x3 World Cup, an event launched in 2012 and originally scheduled to be held every other year, is now an annual event that features 20 men's teams and 20 women's teams in 2019. In addition to the men’s and women’s 3x3 tournaments, included in the 2019 3x3 World Cup program will be skills contests, giving athletes chances to win additional medals.
Including today’s 2-0 slate, the USA men 3x3 teams have compiled a 18-9 overall record in five 3x3 World Cups and claimed the silver medal, its first podium finish, at the 2016 3x3 Worlds.